Ingredient Spotlight: Eggs in Baking
It’s been a long time since we’ve talked baking ingredients here on Completely Delicious, and with Easter just around the corner I thought it would be a great excuse to talk about eggs.
Alton Brown said that the egg is the most flexible and powerful culinary device on earth. Eggs are in everything! From casual breakfast dishes to elaborate cakes and everything in between. In fact, it’s hard to find a baking recipe that doesn’t include eggs. So why are eggs so important?
How and Why Eggs are Used in Baking
The proteins in eggs help with structure during baking. When mixed and agitated with other ingredients, eggs form a web that traps in moisture, fats, etc. These agitated proteins can also create tiny air bubbles that group together in a foam. When baked, the foam expands and creates rise (think of soufflés and meringues). The foam created by whipped egg whites is well known, but it is possible to create foam with egg yolks as well.
Eggs also work to emulsify fats and liquids, are used as thickeners, act as binding agents, help with browning, and so much more. It really is the incredible, edible egg.
Do My Eggs Need to be at Room Temperature?
Many recipes call for eggs at room temperature. This is because the egg membranes are less viscous at room temperature and mix into the batter more easily. The difference will not be noted in every recipe, but it can make a big difference in egg-heavy cakes such as angel food and sponge cakes. A quick way to bring them to room temperature is to put them in warm water for about 5 minutes.
How quickly an egg “ages” has more to do with how it’s stored than the time that’s passed since it was laid. Eggs stored in the back of the fridge (not in the door) will keep for weeks and weeks, while eggs at room temperature will age very quickly. As an egg ages the whites become thinner and the yolk becomes flatter. While aging greatly affects appearance, it has little affect on its behavior during baking. An egg will essentially dry up before it “goes bad” and is unusable.
Eggs by Weight
Most recipes (and all of the recipes on this site) use large eggs, and it’s the only size I keep stocked in my fridge. But what do you do if the size of egg you need isn’t what you have on hand? Gently whisk an egg (or a few) together to combine the egg white and yolk and measure what you need by weight.
Large egg = 50 grams/1.75 ounces
Large egg yolk = 20 grams/0.75 ounces
Large egg white = 30 grams/1 ounce
So there you have it. Eggs! Do you have any egg questions I can help you answer?